Sunday, September 16, 2018

A couple of 50s

I've not yet had time to write up about my trip to the GRP in the Pyrenees, but thought I would do a quick reflection after getting home from being the event co-ordiantor for the Red Rose 50.
Grand Raid Pyrenees Tour des Lacs 82km, 51 miles
First 10 miles, 4500 feet of climb completed in 3 hours - average 18 minutes per mile.
Next 11 miles to the checkpoint at La Mongie, a further 3500 feet of climbing but over 4 climbs from starting altitude of around 7000ft above sea level. Toughest terrain  (boulder fields) used in event. Result - took 6 hrs 30, one mile took over an hour. Had difficulty breathing so had to keep stopping on climbs. Lost 150 places and timed out. Fellow English competitors in GRP80, Bob Nash ran the last few k with me being timed out  by approx 45 minutes. Abigail and Michelle Sunter, made the checkpoint in time but retired there. Winning time was an hour and a half slower than my previous run in 2014. In all 160 of 1160 starters retired at the CP. In the Ultra 160km which started with same route, Albert completed in about 45 hours,  about 7 hours slower than he expected. Karen Nash was third lady overall (21 started, 7 finished) in about 42 hours which is six and a half hours slower than her time of three years ago. Of the near 400 men, 41% retired.
Red Rose 50 this weekend
Not got the full results to hand yet but Karen Nash finished 2nd overall (not 2nd lady but overall) in 10 hrs 30. Albert was about an hour later.  Bob Nash (who is 74) and Abigail both completed in about 15 hrs 30.
The Red Rose 50 has half the climb of the GRP80k but that is still over 7,500ft. We had 13 retirements from 141 starters, a mix of walkers and runners.
It just puts my "failure" at the GRP into perspective.
I will up update with some photos - and exact times later in the week.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Quarterly 'Do' - Friday 21st Septmber

I have booked a table at the Black Horse at Limbrick for our Autumn gathering.

Hope you can make it, grateful for numbers in advance.


Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Settle Seven Summits

A few weeks ago, the running of Coope's Dozen was in serious doubt because of access issues after the Winter Hill fire. I suggested a possible alternative (see Blog July 15th) and today the TF and I went out to reconnoitre it.

We went round clockwise taking in Giggleswick Scar, Pot Scar and Smearsett Scar and stopped for tea and buns at the café in Knight's Stainforth, where we were joined by SWINW. After this we detoured via Catrigg Force which was pretty spectacular after all the recent rain. and decided to add an extra summit to the original list, one that is known locally as Tit Hill (for reasons that are obvious when you see it). It is actually fairly insignificant, but we thought that EtU might appreciate it's inclusion.

We finished off by doing Warrendale Knotts, Sugar Loaf and High Hill, before returning to Settle for more tea. The total distance was exactly 14 miles with over 2500ft of ascent. It was a really good day out and I would like to add it to Coope's Dozen as an annual run for the WFDBWGUA group. My thanks to the TF for driving up here to keep me company.

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Coope's Eleven

Shock, horror! It transpires that nobody completed Coope's Dozen last Saturday, as we missed the true summit of Old Adam's Hill. Despite the dreadful weather this morning, EtU, TF and I reached the true summit, marked by a small cairn, which we missed last week by about 20 metres as we didn't cross the fence that runs along the summit ridge. The irony is that last Saturday the visibility was perfect and this morning the clag was right down - but of course this morning we had the TF who is a brilliant navigator.
Anyone for a re-run?

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

The Magnificent Seven

(For future reference, please note that the 'gentleman' second right, sports a small plaster on his left shin)

Well “magnificent” might be a bit of a misnomer but seven good men and true assembled at the Upper Barn last Saturday for the annual running of Coope’s Dozen. The assembled multitude were Young Stevie (at 61 he was by some way the youngest), Older Stevie, YJ, t’Y, TLoB (main author), Mat Shsticklegs and EtU (illustrations and other minor additions).

We all set off together, reached George’s Lane and it was there I had my first sight of the devastation the fire had caused earlier this summer. Vast areas of burned out vegetation, some new growth and wide fire breaks had turned a familiar area into one I didn’t recognise. However, we hadn’t time to dwell too long on it as we had a long way to go. After Noon Hill (1) we split into two parties with myself, Steve, Ray and t’Y forming the “faster” group. Another misnomer;-no-one watching our progress would have described it as fast!

The Pike(2) and Two Lads(3) were soon reached, followed by an enjoyable route past the reservoir followed by Whinberry Hill(4) and Egg Hillock(5). Then came the first of two unpleasant sections: the descent and climb up to Counting Hill(6), which might have been ok in winter, but the bracken made it a tough climb. t’Y went a different way but gained nothing, so we concluded that there is no good way on that section. Winter Hill(7) and the trig point soon followed and I enjoyed the descent to Hordern Stoops.

We set off up the flag stones which Ray enjoyed so much he decided to inspect them closely – with his forehead – and as a result spent the rest of the day dripping blood on his shoes.

Old Adam’s(8) proved to be a problem, both in terms of navigation and terrain, and was very time consuming. On regaining the ridge, we had to double back to avoid missing Spitler’s Edge(9) but then had an easy run to Great Hill(10) and Round Loaf(11). We then had a debate as to the best route. Having ruled out White Coppice, we went south of Hurst Hill (why was this left off the original list?) but somehow managed to add over two miles to our journey by coming off the moor at Jepson’s Gate.

This meant a horrid road section before the climb up to our final summit, Healey Nab(12). Here we met a group of ramblers from Merseyside who took pity on Ray’s bloody forehead and administered some first aid along with lashings of sympathy that he had singularly failed to receive from his fellow runners.                                                                                                                                                   
Matt's (Ray's) account of the incident:-

Close Encounters of the Unkind  

It’s a number of years since I did Coope’s Dozen due to a succession of injuries, holidays or a fitness level that rendered me capable only of doing Coope’s One. Then last year I noticed in the blog write-up that people were dropping out at different points. This never happened in my day when men were men, women were women and Gays were neither. (better not put that in). I remember people dropping-off but never dropping out. Armed with this attractive alternative I thought I’d give it a go this year. 

I was doing okay with the Foxtrot Group(slow, slow, quick, quick, slow) and was just behind the others when I had a close encounter with the paving stones a few hundred yards before our, not the,  turn-off to Adams Hill. It’s not the best way of practicing your heading. Going over to Great Hill I trIpped again on the flags but managed to keep upright this time. I think my studs were the problem. At Healey Nab we came across a walking group from Maghull Baptist Church mainly consisting of women. On seeing this frail old chap with bird-like legs, well they  called me a Great Tit anyway, sporting a damaged head(if they only knew about the inside)  they insisted on treating the wound, despite my protestations that I’d run a good few miles with the injury. Bolton Royal would have envied the  volume of  wipes and dressings that the good ladies produced. An ex-nurse then proceeded to clean and dress the wound. At long-last my fellow runners were starting to show some real concern. Firstly, that I was turning into a big softie and damaging the reputation of the fell-running fraternity and secondly, I was delaying progress. They had a point because having made a head of it up to that point, I struggled after being molly-coddled. At the end of Anglezarke reservoir I told them to press ahead as long as it wasn’t mine, but realizing they had a wimp on their hands they stuck with me.

Thanks to t’Yorkshireman for keeping contact with me on the run-in and to TLoB and Steve for hanging back. Would they have beaten 6 hours if unencumbered by the headcase?

On examining my face at home I understood why the Maghull ladies were keen to help. Apart from the cut above my eye I had one rather close to it at the side, a thick lip and also some abrasions, which made things look much worse than they actually were. They must have thought that my face looked a mess, not realising that it starts off with a big advantage in that direction! 
All that remained was to jog back to the Barn where we were surprised to meet EtU andYJ. They had wisely decided to miss out Old Adam’s and Healey Nab and so had beaten us back. My thanks to my companions for the day- it was nice to have a long run on my old stamping grounds with good company. In all we covered 19.4 miles with just over 2500ft of climbing. It took us just over 6 hours – as I said “fast” was not the right word.

A few words from the (very) slow group:- Yes, we plodded round and tried YJ's 'escape' from Egg Hillock - It seems all roads do lead to Hell. One day someone will come up with a solution; whether that will be before or after there is a solution to the Irish hard/soft border issue, who knows?

Slightly ashamed for missing the two outlying tops, we decided to make amends by putting in a bit of speed work on the short up stretch immediately after Alance Bridge. Here we met a jolly band from the 1,000 mile club (is this a bit like the Mile High Club)

and one of their number (Susan - back right) photographed not only the start of our effort,:-

 but also caught us proceeding at a slightly slower pace, a few minutes later:-

Anyway, we soldiered on to finish our 15 mile epic in just over 6 hours, to be joined only slightly later by the 'big boys':-

Note that the 'gentleman' who previously had sported only a small plaster on his leg, now sports a much larger one on his head - will he be allowed out to play with the big boys again?

It would seem that a good time was had by (nearly?) all.

Main write-up by tLoB, with minor editing by Ed and  an extra bit of rubbish from Matt.

Sunday, September 02, 2018

Not completing the hardest race I have ever attempted

Four years ago I completed the Grand Raid Pyrenees 80km in 20 hrs 39 minutes. It was tough but I was always well inside every checkpoint cut-off time. I didn't even think about cut-off times.
This year was different. I had recce'd the finishing 8k and found it much more to my liking than the 2014 route. The route to Pic du Midi was also different, going via La Mongie instead of Artigues. The 16km to the first checkpoint at Merlans Restaurant was no problem. My target was three hours to arrive there at 8am. The first 2km is quite flat so I just ran along with the rest at about 10 minutes per mile pace. Then the climb begins. The next 14km has 1500m (5000ft) of climb : you mostly walk it. I arrived at the checkpoint in just inside three hours. However, I did have to stop for a couple of short pauses on the final climb to Col de Portet but it was no cause for concern as I was holding my position. The next couple of miles were fine, just go with the flow, 13 miles or a quarter of the race completed in about 4 hrs 22. By 12 miles in, we were at a height of around 7,500 ft above sea level, heading for four climbs to take you over cols at above 8000ft. I was struggling to breathe on these climbs. I had to stop to recover for a minute or two. The stops became more frequent and longer. I was gradually being overtaken by most of the 200 or so who were behind me. I am well known for my lack of descending prowess and much of the flat parts had their difficulties being over boulder fields. I reached the final col at Pas de la Crabe. I had already decided much earlier that I would retire either at La Mongie or, try my luck at climbing and descending Pic du Midi which I enjoyed last time, then retiring at Tornaboup which is 51km (33 miles). At Pas de la Crabe I  knew I would not make the 1.45pm cut-off at La Mongie. One of the few other British runners, Bob Nash, overtook me whilst I recovered at Pas de la Crabe. He went way from me on the tricky descent before I caught him at the ski station. We then ran together, often with a French guy, to make the checkpoint at 2.30. Even if that had been the cut-off time, there is no why I would have continued. Eventually the few runners still behind us arrived and at 4pm a coach took us back on a 90 minute mystery tour to Vieille Aure.
The race was won in 10 hrs 54. The 2014 race was won in 9 hrs 33. In 2014, I reached the checkpoint at Artigues at noon : this year at La Mongie it was 2.30pm. Bob was one of only three V70s in the race but none completed. Of the 1163 starters, 147 retired at La Mongie, with another 90 retiring after. I know I am not as fit as in 2014 but not by a massive amount. The officials at La Mongie concurred that it was hard this year. Albert completed the 160km version but many hours down on what he targeted. Bob Nash's wife Karen also completed the 160km some 4 to 5 hours down on what she expected - yet she still finished 3rd woman.
It didn't seem to take a lot out of me for nine and a half hours and 8000ft of climb - just a shame I couldn't have put the effort in to reach the CP in say 8 hours.
I will post some photos of the area when I find suitable.